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Minister of Health publishes new 10 year Mental Health Strategy


Health Minister Robin Swann today launched the new Mental Health Strategy 2021-2031, setting the strategic direction for mental health in Northern Ireland for the next decade.

Launching the new strategy in an Oral statement to the Assembly, Minister Swann said:


“The Strategy is built on a vision of a society which promotes emotional wellbeing and positive mental health for everyone, which supports recovery and seeks to reduce stigma and mental health inequalities. In the vision we set out the objective of a system that is consistent and provides equity of service. We also want to break down barriers so that individuals and their needs are right at the centre – a truly person centred care.”


The Strategy consists of 35 actions across three themes:


  • Theme 1: Promoting mental wellbeing resilience and good mental health across society - focussed on promotion, resilience and additional support across various parts of a person’s life, and actions around additional therapy hubs support and support for carers in mental health settings.

  • Theme 2: Providing the right support at the right time - focussed on the delivery of services, to ensure people who need support receive the support they need, when they need it.

  • Theme 3: New ways of working - focussed on the systems around mental health services, such as the creation of a single mental health service, digital mental health, workforce, data and outcomes and innovation and research.


The Strategy is published alongside a Mental Health Funding Plan designed to identify the costs associated with developing, establishing and maintaining the services set out in the Strategy actions. The Funding Plan identifies an estimated investment need of in the region of £112m to £158m revenue funding year on year and circa £285m capital one-off investment.


Minister Swann commented:


“Addressing the current challenges through the actions in the Strategy is dependent on the availability of significantly increase and sustained funding.


“The Funding Plan has identified an investment need of £1.2bn over the next 10 years to fully implement the Strategy. This is a significant investment need and clearly something that I cannot fund from within existing Departmental budgets. It will require a collective effort to bring about the much-needed reform of mental health services.”


Acknowledging the inputs of all those who supported the development of the Strategy, Minister Swann said:


“The Strategy is the result of genuine co-production. Over the last year hundreds of people have been involved in meetings, through workshops, at online events and through direct communication with my officials on how we can ensure we have mental health services fit for the future.


“This includes service users, carers, professionals, community and voluntary sector groups and many others. Without your support, the work to develop the Strategy would not be possible and I want to extend a huge thank you to all of you who have been involved.”


The implementation of the Strategy will be co-ordinated and led by the Department of Health and the implementation leads will vary between the Department, the HSC Board, PHA, HSC Trusts and the community and voluntary sector.





Mental Health Champion for Northern Ireland, Professor Siobhan O’Neill, commented:


“I am delighted with todays announcement of the new Mental Health Strategy. This strategy is an ambitious plan for the much needed reform of mental health services in Northern Ireland. I am particularly pleased that the strategy also contains plans for the prevention of mental illness, and early intervention so that people can get the support and help that they need in a timely manner.


“I wish to thank Minister Swann and the Department of Health who have worked tirelessly through these very difficult times, to deliver this impressive document. I would also Iike to thank all those who responded to the consultation and the people with lived experience who shaped the strategy. We must now demand that the Executive work together to ensure that this Mental Health Strategy is prioritised and funded in full.”


The Mental Health Strategy 2021 – 2031 is available to access on the Department for Health website at: https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/publications/mental-health-strategy-2021-2031.


On 21 December 2020, the draft Strategy was published for public consultation. An Easy Read and Children and Young People’s version of the Strategy were also published. The consultation ran for 14 weeks until 26 March 2021.


One large and 10 smaller, themed virtual consultation events were held during the consultation period to gather stakeholder views regarding the draft Strategy.


The consultation closed on 26 March 2021, and analysis of the 428 responses indicates significant support for the direction of travel and the actions set out in the consultation draft, with over 82% of responses analysed as positive.


A Strategy Consultation Analysis Report was published on the Departmental website on 21 June 2021.


The Strategy is published alongside a 10-year Funding Plan, informed by research commissioned by the Department involving the review of comparable services in other jurisdictions across the UK and Ireland.


The Funding Plan represents the best assessment of potential costs at this stage, which are based on a range of informed assumptions. It is important to note that these estimates are still subject to a business case process, which will include a comprehensive investigation of available options, including a full value for money assessment.


Deliverability of the strategy is conditional on securing additional funding from outside the Department.

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